Author Attitudes, Beliefs, Behaviours

I recently looked over another paper on author attitudes towards Open Access. This was InTech’s which was published last month, and is available here. From this report, the work we have done through the RCS project, discussions I have had, and other papers I have read, there are two things that have now become clear to me (perhaps I am a little late coming to these conclusions, but I haven’t been working in this area as long as many others have).

  1. Impact Factor and its influence is not something we can ignore – for many academics the most important thing is the journal name and the impact that is associated with it. This is currently a major barrier to 1) getting academics to publish in new journals (i.e. OA journals), and 2) getting the publishing system to change (high impact journals have no need to change their business model as publishing in them is highly desired).
    • The argument to this is of course self-archiving and repositories – but we have to be aware that many high impact journals do not allow immediate self-archiving. I did a quick analysis using the top ten journals with the highest impact factor (ISI Impact factor – from Wikipedia) and only 3/10 allowed post-print archiving (according to RoMEO). If you use the top ten journals with the highest combined impact factor (ISI impact factor and PageRank – from Wikipedia) it is a bit better with 5/10 allowing post-print archiving. And is you use ScienceWatch’s top ten most-cited journals, 7/10 allow post-print archiving, which is actually pretty good.
    • My point is, this issue unfortunatley is not instantly solved by self-archiving. Instead we may need to change how academics are evaluated, tenured, promoted, etc. My feeling is that this system is not changing anytime soon…what would it change to?
  2.  Academics don’t really have a clue about what Open Access really is. I have posted on this topic before here. They don’t know that there are multiple ways to make their work OA, and that OA can actually benefit them. They are also mostly unaware of funder and institutional mandates, and they often have no clue that repositories even exist at their institution, for their use.
    • How can we expect academics to make their work OA if they don’t even know what it is?
    • So, what is to be done about this? Who should be responsible for advocating and informing academics? Should this occur at the institutional level, national level, or worldwide?

For more on author attitude, beliefs, behaviours see the following (I have not read all of these – but they are all sitting in a stack on my desk :))

Morris, Sally &  Thorn, Sue. (2009). Learned society members and open access. Learned Publishing 22 (3) p. 221-39 http://uksg.metapress.com/app/home/contribution.asp?referrer=parent&backto=issue,14,21;journal,8,71;linkingpublicationresults,1:107730,1

Kim, Jihyun. (2010). Faculty Self-Archiving: Motivations and Barriers. Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology. 61(9), 1909-1922. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/asi.21336/abstract

Stone, Graham. (2010). Report on the University Repository Survey, October-November 2010. Research report http://eprints.hud.ac.uk/9257/

Park, Ji-Hong & Qin, Jian (2007). Exploring the Willingness of Scholars to Accept Open Access: A grounded Theory Approach. Journal of Scholarly Publishing. http://utpjournals.metapress.com/content/c97213218720314m/

 Theodorou, Roxana. (201). OA Repositories: the Researchers’ Point of View. Journal of Electronic Publishing, 13(3).http://quod.lib.umich.edu/cgi/t/text/text-idx?c=jep;view=text;rgn=main;idno=3336451.0013.304

Allen, James. (2005). Interdisciplinary differences in attitudes towards deposit in institutional repositories http://en.scientificcommons.org/2075479

Moore, Gale. (2011). Survey of University of Toronto Faculty Awareness, Attitudes and practices regarding Scholarly Communication: A Preliminary Report. https://tspace.library.utoronto.ca/bitstream/1807/26446/3/Preliminary_Report.pdf

Image credit: Steve Rhodes

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JISC Collections event – hybrid pricing

Last week (25th May 2011),  JISC Collections held an interesting workshop in London for various stakeholders in the area of Hybrid OA journals – publishers, funders, librarians – which looked at some of the issues in their pricing, sustainability and growth.

One of the observations from publishers was that there is now a general acceptance in the publishing community that Open Access was here to stay and that, as publishers, they had to accommodate OA approaches within their business models. This is now being more widely reflected and does represent a change over the last few years and is a positive move.

One major question was whether Hybrid OA journals – subscription journals that charge additional fees for OA articles – were a transition model or an option which would remain as a part of a future publishing landscape and used against a larger subscription base.

Discussion touched on, but did not explore, the idea of what transition actually means. Transition to what? One view, perhaps the most common in the community, is that hybrid journals are a transition between Journal X being subscription-only, moving to funding from a mix of OA fees and subscriptions, before emerging as a completely OA journal. This was the model that was discussed when hybrid publication was first mooted and introduced.

Since then, developments in other models of research communication have introduced another transition possibility. This second and more radical view is that these could be transition models in allowing Journal X to remain operational as a half-way house in the medium term – but that the future state might be an OA future without Journal X at all. Models such at PLoS One and Scientific Reports, both discussed, might show the way towards a different style of dissemination.

Another significant discussion area was pricing. Some publishers at the event made a case as to why a ten percent rise in OA articles and fees would not mean a ten percent reduction in subscription costs for a hybrid journal. This lack of transparent linkage between rise in additional OA fees and reduction in subscription costs has led to suspicions of “double-dipping“. Although one publisher was of the opinion that the idea of “double-dipping” was promoted by and limited to librarians, experience at the CRC shows this is a fairly common unprompted reaction from academic authors to the idea of hybrid publication. This remains as a credibility issue for publishers that they realise that they have to address, probably by some form of transparent linkage between pre-payment and post-payment levels.

There seems to be an area of difficulty for publishers in scoping hybrid models and balancing percentage increases in fees against decreases in subscription rates. For one thing, it was said that the articles in a journal may only be a part of the costs: that editorial pieces might represent a substantial part of the cost. It would be interesting to see if readers’ perceptions of value in different forms of content reflected the costs of that content:  would editorial content sell as a separate piece for example, allowing closer correspondence between OA fee rise and subscription fall? Of course, it is possible that academic concerns about pricing for a journal already reflect just this issue.

Another issue is that every factor is fluid and linked. The number of articles submitted may change; the number sent for peer review may change; the number published per year or per issue may change; the number of open access fee-paid articles may change; the number of subscriptions may change. And each factor probably depends on the others and overall also relate to variables in the subscription costs and OA article charges.

Of course, this is what any commercial business is about, balancing supply, demand, production costs, price points etc. However, this is also taking place against a changing landscape. Publishers admit that, as a business, they are balancing fee and subscription levels with the view of maximising sustainable profit and they have to measure their models against their existing margin. But what if the world has changed, through technology offering possible alternatives and the financial crisis cutting available revenues, so that scholarly communication cannot or will not support past profit levels? Where is the fixed ground against which publishers can measure new models?

Is it up to customers to offer some fixed level and underwrite commercial experiment, or for the commercial organisation to gamble and create an offering which it hopes will be both sustainable and acceptable to its customers? Normal customer/ business relations may not apply when customers have no wish to risk the sustainability of a journal.

From clarity from publishers to clarity from other stakeholders. The final point from the day that I will touch on is the repeated concern throughout discussions that there is a difficulty for authors in paying open access and hybrid charges. In spite of funding agencies making money available, there is still confusion for authors as to whether the money exists, let alone how to access it. This is an area that the RCS has highlighted before, bringing together research support offices, libraries, repository and open access advisers, publishers and funders. Our survey of chemists and economists, full results forthcoming, shows that one of authors’ primary blocks to use of open access is the expense of publishing and one of the identified chief drivers that would support change would be institutional support for payments.

Funders are in favour and can supply the money; institutions are in favour and will facilitate if there is a clear process; open access advocates exist in institutions to advise; authors would value the support and information. This is an issue which *can* be solved, but we do need joint action to bring clarity for everyone involved: without this, growth in open access publication in general, let alone hybrid journals, could stall for lack of a clear, usable process.

Bill

Future of Scholarly Communications Roundtable

New videos have been released by JISC documenting a roundtable debate on the future of scholalry communications. These videos provide a good summary of the issues and provide some very interesting insight and discussion.

The 8 videos are available on the JISCmedia youtube channel.

1. Changing Scholarly Communications Landscape and Future Models.
2. Dynamics Of Transition to Open Access.


3. Problems and challenges of Gold Open Access.
4. The Hybrid Journal path to Gold Open Access?


5. The mixed economy approach: Here today, gone tomorrow? Or is it here to stay?
6. The advantages of electronic-only journals & data in an Open Access world.
7. Identifying roles and ownership in respect to Digital Preservation.
8. Electronic technologies in the Arts & Humanities and other disciplines.

Mendeley in WIRED

There is an interesting article on the innovative and rapidly growing Mendeley system in the latest (June 2011) issue of WIRED, which gives some background to the hopes and vision of the senior Mendeley team.

Principle investor Stefan Glaenzer: “We are aiming to make Mendeley the biggest knowledge database on the planet [. . . ] In 19 months we have collected over 67 million articles. It took Thomson Reuters 49 years to come up with 40 million.”

Victor Henning, cofounder and CEO, is noted as explaining that the productivity/collaborative component of Mendeley will be monetised, the unique data aggregation will be monetised, Mendeley will be turned into a content distribution platform and targeted advertising will be introduced for Mendeley’s users.

They seem to have established the user base to support this: a claimed 800,000 users uploading seven million research articles (presumably full-text in comparison with the quoted 67 million articles, presumably of bibliographic details).

What is less clear is what monetization routes may be built, or indeed recognised, for the producers and copyright holders of the content which to be distributed, or whether the service itself is repayment enough for the value-added exploitation. Previously, academic authors, and by extension their employing institutions and the funders of their research, have been content to allow commercial exploitation of research articles by publishers. This realisation has helped to bolster arguments for open access, so will future commercial exploitation systems find it as easy to be accepted?

One of the key issues of course, is that traditional publishers have sought to exclusively exploit the material – the basis of subscription-model journals – while Mendeley and others are only using what has been given to them on a freely-reusable basis. This means that they are free to re-use it as they will, make money or not – and if anyone else comes up with a compelling service, then they can get hold of the information too and good luck to them.

Interestingly, as we know from the traditional model, once research dissemination habits have been formed, they tend to become embedded and resistant to change. In this situation, the first to establish a widely used and valued system built on top of freely reusable articles might establish a firm position. Might this happen with Mendeley? Could it be that Mendeley has been in the right place at the right time – as well as giving a service that academics truly value – to become a future dominant underpinning service for research dissemination and re-use?

Bill

Gold mining


Gold pan saloon

I’ve just had a look (be it brief) at the recent report “Heading for the open road: Costs and benefits of transitions in scholarly communications“, commissioned by the Research Information Network (RIN), JISC, Research Libraries UK (RLUK), the Publishing Research Consortium (PRC) and the Wellcome Trust, with contributions from many other (including publishers).

Although I was very much looking forward to this report, I was a bit disappointed that “Gold” ended up being the model that came out on top. I haven’t read the full report, so I can’t actually attempt to poke holes in the analysis, and I will have to take a look at the numbers they present in more detail when I have time. I was a bit concerned about comments that were made about not undermining the publication system – isn’t this to some extent part of the whole point of open access? I thought we were unhappy with the current publication system? Maybe not?

It is fantastic that OA is gaining momentum, and publishers are realising the role they can play (and money they can make), but following the “gold” route will likely leave the scholarly communication system in the hands of for-profit publishers. Isn’t that why the system is currebtly not working for us, and libraries are struggling to pay the bills? Do we really want publishers to have all the power?

I still would like to see some additional modelling on possible outcomes, say :

  • If some percentage (20%, 50%?) of libraries cancelled all subscriptions next week – what  would happen to publishers, how would they change?
  • If 50% of article were put into repositories next week – how would the scholarly communication system change?
  • What would collapse of the system actually mean?

Perhaps these ideas (and the modelling) are unrealistic, but it would at least be interesting to actually model some potential outcomes. I am fairly confident we would find a way to continue distributing and sharing research outputs, even if publishers disappeared (and I am sure they wouldn’t, they would just have to figure out a new business model).

Image credit: Close to Spectacular

Call for retention of authors’ rights

The high-ranking JISC Open Access Implementation Group has released a strongly worded statement in support of authors’ retention of publishing rights.

This seems to relate to recent moves by some publishers to try to limit institutional archiving of materials by asking for separate agreements to be reached between the publisher and individual institutions.

Elsevier, in particular, has begun to try to restrict its previously permissive policy allowing authors to archive their own final versions, by saying that if an institution has a systematic deposit mandate for its staff, that authors should no longer be allowed to archive their work. See the 1,800 words of their policy guidance which they expect authors  to understand and comply with.

This is being done on the basis that Elsevier will still allow authors to archive their work if it is done on a voluntary basis: but if there is a mandate, they will seek to prohibit it.  So authors can if they want to:  but not if they are told to!

Such efforts seem to try to amend policies that have been put in place by funders or institutions “upstream” of the author’s final production of an article for publication and make adherence to these policies a matter of post-hoc negotiation.

In the case of Elsevier, the publisher seems to be seeking to make independent agreements with individual institutions, rather than more open collective agreements: a point raised in the OAIG statement.  Rumours of negotiations with individual institutions so far seem to suggest that Elsevier is seeking to track usage of authors’ articles from institutional repositories and asking institutions, as a condition of allowing archiving, to give them reports of detailed monitoring and use of institutions’ own institutional systems.

Will institutions agree to third-party monitoring of their own internal systems, if that is really what is truly being requested? It will be interesting to see what finally results from any negotiations if any are actually concluded.  The OAIG statement calls for institutions:

” . . . not to enter into one-to-one negotiations with publishers on self-archiving rights for their staff, and instead to rely on publicly declared rights as shown on the Sherpa-RoMEO website.”

Bill

 

Industrial taskforce urges opening access

A major report by the Council for Industry and Higher Education (CIHE) is urging universities to open access to their knowledge and intellectual property to support and boost UK manufacuring capacity.

The reports assesses the UK’s current position in manufacturing – Britain is still the sixth largest manufacturer in the world by output, with manufacturing contributing £131 billion to GDP (13.5%), 75% of business research and development (R&D), 50% of UK exports and ten percent of total employment.

Given the conventional wisdom that the eighties finished off UK manufacturing, this is cheering to read.  However, the UK currently only ranks 17th in competitativeness and is forecast to slide.  The report identifies greater access to innovative IP and cutting edge research as essential to halt this decline.

From their release:  Simon Bradley, vice-president of EADS, said to gain greater access to universities’ knowledge, ideas and creativity was vital for manufacturing: “Our Taskforce has found that the simple act of universities opening their vast knowledge banks and providing free access to their intellectual property would have the single biggest impact on accelerating the capability and growth of smart manufacturing in the country.”

This is where open access to articles and data cuts into the “real world” and benefits can be seen outside the research community.

Some sceptical publishers continue to argue against Green OA and for locking down copyright on the grounds of (unproven) economic impacts on their business. Open Access journals, while developing, are still far from the norm: “hybrid” journals continue to charge high fees on top of their continuing subscription costs. The response from much of the publishing world has been to see open access as an additional profit line, or as something to allow by exception, rather than a recognition of a different and new way of working and of OA as playing a part in a far larger working environment.

This report highlights that there is an economic world outside the publishing industry too, and one which is crying out for the benefits of OA.

Given the potential for open access to research to benefit this wider economic picture, as well as collaborative developments between research institutes and industry,  restrictive arguments become increasingly untenable. If funders want OA, researchers want OA, institutions want OA and industry wants OA, why are some publisher’s contracts still stopping this from happening?

Bill